Zimbabwe rewrites history


THE renaming of army barracks by the Zimbabwe Defence Forces and the Ministry of Defence after renowned First and Second Chimurenga leaders is a process to promote Zimbabwean values and rewrite the country’s history.
The renaming of the KGVI Barracks after the late ZANLA Chief of Defence, General Josiah Magama Tongogara is the first in a series of renaming events.
The National Defence University, has been renamed after the late Rogers Alfred Nikita Mangena and the Headquarters 3 Infantry Brigade in Mutare has been renamed after the late Herbert Chitepo, while Flyde Air Force Base near Chegutu has been renamed after Jason Ziyaphapha Moyo.
Plans are underway to introduce public lectures on the history of the liberation struggle depicting the roles played by some prominent liberation war heroes, where more such information can be shared.
The former KGVI Barracks which houses both the Zimbabwe National Army and Air Force of Zimbabwe Headquarters was built around 1972 after the British South African Police (BSAP) was conferred the right of defence by the 1923 Constitution of then Southern Rhodesia.
It was named after Albert Fredrick’s Arthur George, who was King of the United Kingdom and dominions of the Commonwealth from 1936 until his death in 1952.
It is believed the Rhodesian Army was named after him upon his death in 1952 by virtue of him being the King and Commander-in-Chief during the establishment of the Rhodesian Army.
Similarly, the ZDF acknowledge that since the Army HQ and Airforce HQ are the heart and soul of the ZDF, it is prudent that they are named after an icon of the armed struggle General Tongogara.
Speaking during a ceremony to change the name KGVI Barracks to Josiah Magama Tongogara (JMT) Barracks, President Emmerson Mnangagwa said the renaming of institutions exorcises the ghost of colonialism.
“The process has without doubt set in motion our longstanding desire to rewrite our own history and in the process promoting our values as Zimbabweans,” said President Mnangagwa.
“By doing so, we rid ourselves of the colonial mentality which regards all that is associated with Europe and the West with high esteem while placing a low opinion of our own value systems.
“The ghost of colonialism has thus been exorcised by the renaming of these institutions after our illustrious sons and liberation icons.”
Renaming of our institutions, said President Mnangagwa, goes a long way in preserving the nation’s history which will be bequeathed to future generations.
“We should never ever forget the role played by the rest of the gallant sons and daughters of the soil who fought in the wars of our liberation,” he said.
“The selection of General Tongogara and a few others, is not meant to obliterate the role played by the rest of the liberation war fighters, war collaborators, war detainees and progressive people of this country during the armed struggle.
“It is just a humble recognition of their outstanding services to the revolution that put them a cut above the rest.
“It is also a symbolic gesture for the many unsung heroes and heroines of our struggle, who are too many to mention.”
President Mnangagwa revealed that the Government and the Tongogara Foundation have prepared a commemorative plaque to be erected at the place where General Tongogara died, North of Mxixe, in Inhambane Province, Mozambique.
He described General Tongogara as a visionary and a leading character of the liberation struggle.
“There is no doubt that the name Tongogara is synonymous with Zimbabwe’s successful prosecution of the liberation war,” said President Mnangagwa.
“His consistent and persistent inspirational and daring initiative, combined with his undaunted willpower weekend the superiority of the Rhodesian Security Forces and eventually destroyed the mighty sword of the enemy.”
And, because of his principle, said President Mnangagwa, memories of General Tongogara should always inspire everyone to remain rooted in the noble founding principles of the liberation struggle.
President Mnangagwa chronicled General Tongogara’s history at length.
General Tongogara was born on February 4 1940 in Nhema Tribal Trust Lands near Shurugwi and attended Rockford Mission.
He was exceptionally gifted and excelled in academic work, as well as in music and football.
However, General Tongogara became politically conscious at a tender age, after witnessing the oppression that his parents were being subjected to by the whites at Gwenoro Farm where they worked.
For General Tongogara and others, the racism was unbearable.
His desire for the right to self-determination motivated him to join the Second Chimurenga where he played a pivotal role in ending oppression.
General Tongogara left the country for Zambia in 1960 and found employment in Lusaka.
In 1965 he met, Cde Percy Ntini who had returned from military training in Ghana. He recruited him to join to the ranks of the liberation struggle.
He joined the ranks of Cdes Percy Ntini, Felix Rice Santana, Noel Mukono and Matavire.
It’s vital to note that General Tongogara was heavily involved in the recruitment of ZANLA cadres from Lusaka to Itumbi in Tanzania, a camp that he helped set up with the assistance of Cde Noel Mukono and the late Brigadier General Hashim Mbita and Captain Mwambora of Tanzania People’ Defence Force.
In 1966, he received his initial training known as ‘chimbi-chimbi’ from Cde William Ndangana and Cde Ernest Kadungure at Kafue Training Camp.
And in 1967, he went for further military training in China at Nanjing Military Academy.
In 1968, Cde Tongogara was elected Secretary of the Revolutionary Council of ZANU, better known as Dare reChimurenga where he was to become the Military Commander of the ZANLA.
In 1969 as a member of the ZANLA High Command Chief of Operations, he forged strategic links with FRELIMO as a way of opening the Tete corridor by fighting alongside FRELIMO against the Portuguese in Mozambique.
This strategic partnership subsequently enabled ZANLA guerillas then, to take advantage of FRELIMO liberated zones inside Mozambique and using these as launching pads for attacks into Rhodesia well before Mozambique had gained her independence.
In 1972, he became Chairman of the High Command deputised by Cde Ndangana but still retained his position as a member of the Dare reChimurenga.
His formation of the High Command and General Staff was to facilitate the effective prosecution of the liberation war.
By 1973, General Tongogara had ascended to become the Chief of Defence on Dare reChimurenga, and was charged with the responsibility of directing the war in Zimbabwe.
Along a number of military strategies which saw a massive number of recruits joining the armed struggle, General Tongogara took great strides in improving the training standards of the ZANLA Forces by seeking training assistance in countries such as China, Romania, Yugoslavia and Libya.
As an able Commander, he managed to resolve the issue of early counter revolutionary manouvres that threatened to derail the revolution such as the Nhari and Badza Rebellion of 1974 and the Dzino Revolt of 1976.
At the Chimoio Congress, General Tongogara was elected into the Central Committee as the Secretary of Defence.
He was also part of the Geneva and Lancaster Conference delegations, where he proved to be a shrewd and formidable negotiator.
His death in a car crash on December 26 1979, came after his brief to the commanders on the Ceasefire Agreement.
General Tongogara’s widow, Angeline Tongogara, said the renaming of the KGVI Barracks to JMT Barracks was an honour to the sacrifices made by General Tongogara.
“On behalf of the Tongogara Family, the Foundation and on my own behalf, I sincerely convey my warm regards and deep thanks to President Mnangagwa and the Commander ZDF, General Constantino Chiwenga for this honour bestowed upon the Tongogara Family in memory of the leadership of the late ZANLA Commander who led from the front during the war of liberation until its successful conclusion, although he did not live to see the fruits of his sacrifice.”
“Words are not enough to tell you how grateful we are for this recognition that will continue to recognise and teach the values of the liberation struggle through this honour bestowed on its Commander,” said Mai Tongogara.
Former President Cde Robert Mugabe once described General Tongogara as: “Always a very frank man who spoke his mind.”
And indeed, General Tongogara spoke his mind.
Many freedom fighters can attest to this.
Long live General Tongo’s legacy.


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